MCC creates ripples in ruling coalition: Leaders rush to save alliance

Published On: February 3, 2022 11:06 AM NPT By: Tapendra Karki

KATHMANDU, Feb 3: Leaders of the ruling parties have been convincing each other to save the alliance after a dispute arose over whether to table the US-aid project Millennium Challenge Compact (MCC) Agreement at parliament.

Leaders of the Nepali Congress (NC) were busy rushing to convince the leaders of the ruling Maoist Center and the CPN (Unified Socialist Party) on Wednesday. Chairman of the Maoist Center Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Chairman of the CPN (Unified Socialist) Madhav Kumar Nepal were also on the rush yesterday.

On Wednesday, the leaders of the Nepali Congress met separately with the Chairman of the Maoist Center, Dahal, and the Chairman of the CPN (Unified Socialist), Nepal. Dahal and Nepal met Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba in the morning and evening. After Prime Minister Deuba took the policy of tabling the MCC agreement at the current session of parliament for ratification, a rift has arisen among the leaders of the ruling coalition parties.

As tensions escalate, the alliance could break even before the local elections. Leaders are busy in discussions and consultations throughout the day on Wednesday to prevent such a situation.

The CPN (Maoist Center) and the CPN (Unified Socialist) have been discussing what to do if the MCC is tabled in parliament immediately.

Leaders including NC Vice President Purna Bahadur Khadka and Communications Minister Gyanendra Karki had reached Khumaltar on Wednesday morning to meet Maoist Center Chairman Dahal. They assured Dahal that the alliance would continue. Similarly, Home Minister Bal Krishna Khand had reached Unified Socialist Chairman Nepal’s residence in Koteshwor to meet him. Deuba had sent a message to Dahal and Nepal through party leaders and ministers to maintain the alliance.

After the talks in Khumaltar and Koteshwor, Deuba, Dahal and Nepal had a one-hour talk in Baluwatar at 11 AM yesterday. They also discussed in the evening whether to submit the MCC to the parliament meeting, when to hold the local elections, and obstruction of government appointments after the announcement of the election date.

During the discussion, Deuba requested to inform him if there is any point to amend in the MCC agreement. "During the morning discussion, the Prime Minister asked which points of the MCC needed to be reformed and amended. The discussion proceeded in a very positive and fruitful manner," said a Maoist leader, quoting Dahal. After Dahal and Nepal took a stand that the MCC could not be passed in the status quo, Prime Minister Deuba had asked them what needed to be amended.

Prime Minister Deuba is preparing to present the MCC in the parliament meeting. Congress leaders had complained that Dahal had not cooperated with the government after Speaker Sapkota reached the home district, postponing the meeting of the House of Representatives convened for January 30, at the request of Dahal.

Dahal's talks with Song Tao, head of the Chinese Communist Party's International Liaison Department, also sparked tensions within the alliance. The NC had asked for clarification after the news came out that Song had pressured Dahal not to present the MCC in parliament. "All those illusions were discussed on Wednesday morning," said a leader close to Dahal.

According to the leaders, the tension in the alliance has increased after Deuba said that he would present the MCC agreement at the parliament meeting. 

After returning from Baluwatar after holding talks with Prime Minister Deuba, CPN (Unified Socialist) Chairman Nepal said that the alliance would continue till the parliamentary elections as they have to move forward unitedly against the UML. Addressing a blood donation program in Kathmandu, Chairman Nepal accused the UML of wreaking havoc everywhere and spreading the illusion that the alliance was falling apart.

He said that the UML had played a destructive role by not allowing parliament to convene. "The country has now moved ahead with the politics of alliance. The alliance will not be broken by anyone spreading confusion," Nepal said. He said that local level elections will be held in May. "Someone had told the NC president to break the alliance and support it, but this alliance is not going to break. Even if someone tries to break it, it will not break," Nepal said.

Maoist leaders Narayan Kaji Shrestha, Dev Gurung, Lilamani Pokhrel and others are not in favor of passing the MCC agreement. They are pressuring Dahal not to support the government in passing the MCC.

That is why Dahal has taken a stand that the MCC cannot be tabled in parliament in the current situation, saying that the contradictions within the party have increased. 

According to a source, Dahal and Nepal reiterated their positions that the MCC should be tabled in the parliament meeting only after it is amended.

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